Custom Woollen Mills manager Maddy Purves-Smith, who is struggling with shipping options during the company’s busiest time of year, packages an order at the facility near Carstairs, Alta., Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canada Post backlog, Greyhound exit creating headaches ahead of the holidays

The federal government forced members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to their jobs late last month

Jennifer Critch hopes to spend Christmas morning watching her two young daughters play with a brand new train table.

But the southwestern Ontario mom is getting anxious the toy won’t be delivered in time by Canada Post, which says it is trying to clear an unprecedented backlog following a weeks-long labour disruption.

READ MORE: Canada Post union issues strike notice

Canada Post’s woes, plus Greyhound’s exit from Western Canada in October, are creating headaches for many Canadians ahead of the holiday season.

Critch’s daughters, who are three and 18 months, are transfixed by the train set at their local library every time they visit and she wanted to get them something similar for home.

“It was going to be their big Christmas gift this year,” she said. “I was hoping to set it up and have them wake up to it Christmas morning.”

RELATED: Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid rotating strikes

RELATED: Canada Post says it lost $242-million in Q2 of 2018

Critch doesn’t drive and lives in a rural area, so online shopping seemed like a stress-free option. But the estimated delivery date keeps slipping while the package sits in a warehouse an hour away in Mississauga, Ont.

“I’m OK if I get it Christmas Eve,” she said. “I just want it before Christmas.”

The federal government forced members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to their jobs late last month after five weeks of rotating strikes over pay equity, safety and other concerns.

Canada Post is dealing with a parcel volume two to three times higher than normal for this time of year, said spokesman Jon Hamilton. The backlog of six million packages is concentrated in major processing centres such as Toronto and Vancouver.

Guarantees that a parcel will be delivered within a specific window have been suspended until further notice.

“We’re doing everything possible to deliver as much as possible, but the backlogs and the unevenness mean delivery is going to be very unpredictable,” said Hamilton. ”We will deliver a lot before Christmas, but we’re continuing to monitor to see what we might not get to before Christmas.”

READ MORE: Greyhound to end bus service in B.C., Alberta

RELATED: Wilson’s bus company looks to expand into void left by Greyhound

The Crown corporation has rented 1,400 additional vehicles for deliveries and 500 more for moving items between facilities. It has also added 4,000 seasonal employees.

But protests at Canada Post facilities and the prospect of nasty winter weather mean there’s no telling when it will be back to business as usual.

Union national president Mike Palecek disputes the rotating strikes caused any backlogs.

“They wanted to develop a line to create a sense of urgency around back-to-work legislation, which has always been Canada Post’s only game at the bargaining table,” he said.

On the delivery delays, Palecek said: “This sounds to me like an issue of poor management.”

Another popular shipping mode — Greyhound — is no longer an option west of Thunder Bay, Ont. Its passenger buses would often tow cargo trailers to small towns, but the carrier abandoned all but one route in Western Canada in October. Only the U.S.-run Vancouver-Seattle route remains.

Greyhound’s move has driven up costs for Custom Woolen Mills, which processes wool harvested from farms around the country into blankets, socks and other goods in a rural area north of Calgary. It’s the busiest time of year for the family-run business.

“Wool’s got a lot of volume. You can’t squish it down. It’s not like sending a pound of butter. A pound of wool is pretty big,” said manager Maddy Purves-Smith.

She figures the mill is spending 30 per cent to 40 per cent more on shipping by courier and truck now that Greyhound is out of the picture.

“Greyhound had pretty great rates and they also went all over the country. A big challenge that we’re having now with them gone is that there aren’t a ton of couriers that will service rural areas and places that are a little further off the beaten track.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

Victoria High School. (Black Press Media file photo)
Alumni Association abandons plans for eight-lane track at Vic High

SD61 spokesperson says easement, which makes 8-lane track impossible, left out of consultation

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read